He was the sort of person that you just tend to ignore. Obviously keeping to himself, people passed by without much thought. Like a homeless person taking a nap or someone sitting on a park bench, they don’t draw attention so there is never any real reason to bother them. One old man was on his own, but a little girl noticed. She couldn’t have known the reason, but the reason didn’t matter – she saw what others couldn’t.
On a school field trip to a children’s museum, my 7 year old daughter who is autistic and doesn’t talk, kept gravitating towards an elderly man who was sitting alone in a corner with a small drum on his lap.
I kept pulling her away, as the man seemed not to notice my daughter and appeared to be in his own world. She kept pulling and pulling me towards him though.
Finally, I relented. She went to the man, with me at her side, and stared at the man. He looked down at her, and they stared into each others eyes for what seemed like an eternity. My daughter picked up one of the drum sticks that was resting on top of the drum, and the man picked up the other.
Wordlessly, they played that drum together for several minutes. By the end, the man had tears streaming down his face. I noticed a young woman nearby who was also in tears, the mans daughter or grand daughter I assumed.
When they stopped playing the drum, my daughter and the man gave each other a hug. I said “thank you”, and the man returned with his own, “no, thank you”.
With those words, the young woman began crying excessively and explained to me: “my father had a stroke nearly a year ago, and hasn’t made eye contact let alone spoken to anyone since. He just sits with that drum. His thank you was his first words since his stroke.”
I can’t explain what happened that day, but it was magical.
Time after time, children see past the things that stop adults. We are so busy keeping to our own business that we seldom stop to ask after other people. When they finally learned the story, this woman learned a lesson that she’ll not soon forget.
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